What drowning really looks like

What drowning really looks like

Recognizing the Signs of Drowning

It’s been three years now, and I can still clearly see it happening in my mind. As we head into another summer, I can’t help but share this post once again:

Earlier this summer I read a post about what drowning really looks like.

This weekend, I saw it for myself.

We spent the day at my dad’s house for a family pool party, which is always a little bit stressful as we keep track of four little ones—who are at times overly brave in the water—in the midst of conversations and chaos.

After a brief break to eat, the girls hopped back in the pool for another swim while Sean and I stood on the side keeping track of them.

Our six-year-old put on a floaty and swam to the deeper part of the pool (my dad’s pool has a large one-foot deep area that is perfect for lounging or for the little ones to play, but she’s at the age that she doesn’t want to be stuck in the “baby pool”).

I stood scanning the pool over and over, counting heads again and again.

And then I blinked and started my count one more time.

When I got to the 6-year-old this time, she was silent and still…and underwater.

She was still upright, but there was no thrashing or splashing.

She was simply floating under the water, with her arms stretched out to the sides, staring at me with a blank look on her face.

In that moment, time seemed to be rushing by and at a standstill all at once.

I said to Sean, “Sean…Dylan!” and was trying to decide whether to jump in myself.

Because she was fairly close to where I was standing, I couldn’t figure out how I would jump in without actually jumping on her, so I said to a nearby family member, who was in the water just feet away: “Jason, can you get Dylan?”

He didn’t respond at first, and my mind began racing again, but his wife realized what was going on and repeated my words.

He turned around and with all of the training of a former lifeguard scooped her right up and out of the water.

As soon as her face broke the surface she began to sob and cough and dry heave….beautiful sounds in that moment.

We sat and cuddled on the side for quite some time before encouraging her to sit back in the pool (safe and sound in the shallow end), which she eventually did, walking on her hands and swimming around that area like nothing had happened.

I can’t quite get the picture of her little face staring up at me from under the water out of my head, and I’m not sure I’ll ever forget it. But I am so, so thankful to have read that article so that I instantly recognized what was happening.

I sincerely hope you’ll take a moment to go read it as well.

Note: Knowing what I know now, I would take any of our children to the ER following a near drowning incident to eliminate the possibility of secondary or “dry” drowning. Be sure to also read more about that risk here.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. How terrifying. I’m glad to hear your daughter is ok and thank you for sharing your story once again and the link. This is so important for parents to know. Please continue to share this info.

  2. I saw this once myself. I was a college student working over the summer at a YMCA daycamp. We went to the pool regularly and all the kids had to pass a swim test before they were allowed in the deep water. I was watching one girl who I’d known for a few years and I knew could swim. She swam one way across the pool and as she came back she was not quite in the middle of the pool and she just…went under the water. I thought she was playing like she’d gone down to touch the bottom because she was still upright in the water and was going to pop back up. I waited. She didn’t come up. I could see her in the water, but she didn’t come back up. I called out to her to stop messing around still nothing. I looked at the life guard because she was actually closer to her, but she hadn’t noticed. I was freaked out by this point and so I jumped in and got her and just like you said, as soon as I pulled her up above the water she was choking and crying. It was so scary, but the whole event was so fast and so almost surreal the way that it happened. As a mom now, it’s even scarier.

    1. Oh, wow, L.L. — that’s a hard thing for a college student to experience. I’m thankful you were there and paying attention, though!

  3. If it helps to drive this message home…please take a look at Turtle Power for James Edwards. He had a nearing drowning experience and is still in critical condition as I type after doctors did a treatment that is normally done on heart attack patients. Please help spread the word.

    1. It really is such a heartbreaking story, Christina — thank you for sharing it!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this ever important information, as well as your personal experience. I am so thankful that your daughter was okay!

  5. this also happened to my son at a water park, when he was jsut 16mths. He was playing with the little bubble fountain, I was beside him n he lost his footing n slipped, the water was only up to his ankles so very shallow and I thought he would just stand up, but oh no he just floated face down, no struggle or attempt to stan,d when I grabbed him he was gasping. It was only seconds and I watched the whole thing very scary, he started swim lessons at 18mths, He is now 14 and a very good swimmer. I know work at a learn to swim school

    1. Oh my goodness, Linda — that sounds terrifying! I’m so glad to hear he’s okay and that you all took such a scary experience and turned it around for good!

  6. I’m so glad I read this and that you’re sharing this. I’ve never experienced this before but I think it’s really important to correct the misconception of what drowning looks like.

Comments are closed.

Close Menu